By Alison James

Associate Editor

For a night in downtown under the stars, with entertainment, food and beverages, Opelikans must look no further than On the Tracks, beginning tonight at 6 p.m.

Participation in the main feature of the event, the tasting trail, is $25.

“That gets you 22 tastings – 22 food tastings with a complimentary beverage,” explained Pam Powers-Smith, director of Opelika Main Street, which hosts this event twice a year. “You have a map that tells you where to go, and all of these tastings take place inside all our retail stores. There are not many events like this.”

Of course, downtown will be lively and open to anyone, not just On the Tracks attendees. Shops and restaurants will all be open for business, and several restaurants will also have tables set up to sell small plates on the street.

“Those are very minimal in cost so you could get one from every vendor outside,” Powers-Smith said.

Jimmy’s will have small plates for sell, as will Ariccia out of Auburn, which is “something they’ve never done before,” Powers-Smith said. Another outdoor small plates vendor will be Zazu, which is moving from its Auburn location to South Eighth Street in Opelika and will be opening soon.

“He’s excited to be talking to people and telling people what they’re going to be doing because he’s going to change the restaurant a little bit from what it was in Auburn,” Powers-Smith said.

The tasting trail sends people all over downtown in a casual atmosphere that encourages event-goers to get to know and enjoy everything downtown Opelika has to offer.

“It’s just laid-back and easy,” said Powers-Smith. “You’re always running into people you know or people you haven’t seen in a long time, and I always love it when people say they’ve made new friends at On the Tracks.”

Powers-Smith said the event was started when they “felt there was an absence of people getting to know the stores.” Not much has changed since the event’s inception; no one seems to mind.

“The merchants just really enjoy getting to know people,” Powers-Smith said. “You can’t ask for much more than that … (and) now that we have so many new people – the distillery, the brewery, Spa 180, Zazu – it will be different, which is kind of nice.”

Smith T Building Supply will also be on the trail for the first time to show off the store’s recently-discovered painted advertisement for Coke, and Almost Anything Pawn, by the courthouse, also joins the trail this year.

Live music will be provided by the Roof Runners, the Acrostics, Brittany Avery, Sylvia Rose and Uncle Sweetheart and The Salem Two.

Ticket sales will continue online today until early afternoon – – and will also be for sale tonight in front of Flip Flop Foto.

“We always sell out, so we encourage people not to wait until 9 p.m. to come get a ticket,” Powers-Smith said. “It really is a fun night – the ambience, the atmosphere.”

Check out the website or Facebook for more information. April 10, 2015 will be the spring event.